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Batavia wants federal funding restored for Fermilab
By Ann M. Stewart | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 1/8/2008 12:18 AM

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Batavia Mayor Jeffery Schielke is concerned that recent federal budget cuts affecting the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will not only cost the local area hundreds of jobs, but will also cost the United States its leadership role in high-energy physics research.

At a Monday evening meeting, the Batavia city council approved a proclamation that supports the Batavia-based Fermilab and calls for the creation of a supplementary federal government appropriation to return Fermilab to its original 2008 budgeted funding levels.

The facility was the victim of "a midnight budget slash" by the federal government in late 2007, according to Schielke. The nearly $90 million reduction in Fermilab's funding will cost as many as 200 jobs in 2008, and will leave remaining employees facing unpaid furlough or reductions in wages.

"Between us and Aurora, St. Charles, Naperville and Geneva, we account for over half of Fermilab's employees," Schielke said. "The high-energy physics research at Fermilab impacts medicine, health care, the environment and certainly the energy problems that the United States is facing. Through research, Fermilab may be able to realize answers to some of the great problems of our time."

The 2008 budget cuts will primarily affect research and development on the International Linear Collider, the Super Conducting Radio Frequency Accelerator, and NOvA, a neutrino research program.

In addition to the city's proclamation, Schielke has also co-signed a letter, along with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, that calls for financial support for Fermilab and other similarly affected laboratories. Plans call for that letter to be circulated to the congressional delegation. Schielke said that the letter has already received a favorable response from the offices of senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin.

"Hopefully a number of other village boards and councils will pass similar resolutions, and the support will gain momentum. We need to let the U.S. Congress know the concerns we have and the support we have for all the good things Fermilab has to offer," Schielke said.